Great news! You can now search for ancestors in the 1861, 1871 and 1881 Canada census, plus view the actual census images.
The 1861 census of Canada is now online, searchable and indexes linked to images of the actual census pages.
Since Canada didn’t officially become a country until 1867, the first national census wasn’t held until 1871. The 1861 Census of Canada is a collection of five provincial censuses. Censuses were taken throughout different times of the year in the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Canada East (Lower Canada, or roughly southern Quebec), and Canada West (Upper Canada, or roughly southern Ontario). Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island only recorded the names of the heads of households, while New Brunswick, Canada East and Canada West recorded the names of everyone in the household.
The 1871 census of Canada is also online.
This database is an every name index to individuals enumerated in the 1871 Canada Census, the first census of Canada since confederation in 1867. National censuses have been taken every 10 years since 1871 and every five years since 1971. The 1871 census includes the four original provinces – Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Ontario. It is linked to actual images
The 1881 census of Canada, formerly online only as a transcribed text version is now available with indexes linked to actual online images.